I don’t always write theology here at ReclaimingTheMission. I’m often writing pastoral reflections on actual church situations in mission. When I write theology, I try not to write academic theology here on this blog. I hope to write theology that is reflective on important issues pastors are facing in mission. My theological posts often don’t get as many hits as other leadership oriented posts. I’m cool with that. Nonetheless, I think theology is crucial for the pastor/leader of communities among mission. So here’s 10 theological posts I think are worth another look for 2013. This is my last post for the year. So the very best of remaining Advent, and a Merry Christmas celebration of the coming of God in the Son to be “with” us!
My Ten Best Theological Posts of The Year (in no specific order)
1.The Missional Church and Racial Reconciliation: The Space Between Malcolm and MLK. Here I wanted to deal with the way reconciliation is coopted by broader cultural ideologies and how Christian presence via a missional community offers a way to open up space for racial reconciliation that is the Kingdom. Kudo’s to CCDA in this post.
2. Proclaiming Gospel: What’s Missing in the Missional Church. Here I wanted to carve out space for an epistemological shift if the way we think about proclaiming gospel as a practice of mission. I wanted to help us get beyond the hang-ups of a decontextualized gospel (like 4 spiritual laws) and epistemological modesty (a refusal to impose truth) so as to be “present” with the gospel in a way we own it as our Story.
3. Knitting While Detroit Burns: The Reformed Both/And versus the Anabptist First/Then. Here I am trying to differentiate the church/society relation as the Anabaptists see it versus the Reformed. I’m playing off comments made by Jamie K Smith on the demise of Detroit and the inability of Anabaptist communal types to address it. This is an important distinction for me in the whole evangelical Anabaptist movement.
4. How to Avoid Becoming a Cult: The Oikos versus Ekklesia Distinction. Here I am trying to parse out why I think “church” means more than house church if indeed house church focuses internally on the oikos life together as family/economy. The church needs a public presence for witness. This addresses what I see as a weakness in both missional and Anabaptist movements.
5. Egalitarianism Leads to Liberalism? Why I am for the Abolishing of the Entire Egalitarian/Complementarian Logic. Here I address the problem as I see it of egalitarian logic for renewing women in ministry and authority in the Christian community. It basically asks women to enter a masculine logic (see Butler, Irigaray on this). This whole issue is important to me because these squabbles gum up the issue of women in ministry and hold back the church (we walk/move on one leg with the other cut off essentially) from full membership of women in the authority and gufts of the Spirit at work in the church.
6. Project Versus Presence: Leading Our Churches into The Neighborhood. Here I am interested in fleshing out what it means to be present to God and to one another and God at work in the area that lies in between. To me this theme of “Presence” has become so huge I’m writing an entire book on the practices of a community being present to God, His presence, and to others, and His presence there in the midst. (to be titled Faithful Presence – coming out on IVP books in 2015).
7. Is The Kingdom Outside the Church? Yes and Here’s Why? Here I’m taking on Scot McKnight a little (who shows up on the blog post comments). Scot and I are both arguing for a closer relation of the church to the Kingdom. Scot goes further than I though. This discussion is really important. Have a read if it interests you.
8. Sentness Extends Authority: What It Means to Be Sent. Here I am expressing my discontent with the “missional mantra” of “joining in with what God is already doing.” To me, without good theology, we can interpret this in practice to actually mean we have to do the work (contrary to what I think the original phrase wanted to express.) I want to talk about the actual authority we carry (not possess) and how it is released through our posture of submission to it in real space and time.
9.Is the Gospel the Center of the Church? or Jesus? My Dialogue with Tim Keller’s Center Church. Here’s a part of my review of Tim Keller’s Center Church. It is a good book, but I have some reservations how his idea of church is centered on the gospel (as he articulates it). I worry this somehow decenters Jesus Himself as Lord of the church, head of the body, as His flesh and blood in the world for His mission in the world (which He sits as ruler over at the right hand).
10. Are The Neo-Reformed/Evangelicals Niebuhrians? and therefore Ill-Equipped for Post-Christendom. My answer to this question is yes. And I would further accuse classic Kuyperian evangelicals of the same disease . Read it and find out.
There were other theological posts during 2013 that I would highlight. For instance, my parsing out an Anabaptist missional posture in regard to LGBTQ sexualities was important. Many could not get what I was saying because of the political theory I was insistent on working off of (alot of post structuralist ideology political theory here). I also got into it with Tony Jones over the necessity of working with “labels.” This was good conversation. Then there was just great posts/comments, conversations on issues of missional church practice. I learned alot. I love doing this!!
So, all in all, it was a great year blogging. Thanks to all the faithful readers of ReclaimingTheMission . I really appreciate the numerous insights and interactions. May God bless Advent season in your life. May Christmas bring you a renewed sense of God’s presence through His Son in our lives, the world until He returns consummating all things.